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Time to see what Manchester City are made of
Tuesday, 8th Nov 2016 09:43

Pep Guardiola stated that he will only know how good his Manchester City team is when they have to bounce back from adversity, but after their 100% start in the Premier League campaign was ended at White Hart Lane by Tottenham, he will find out in due course.

It was the first time that the Citizens have found themselves under real pressure from an opponent who could not only withstand the threat of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and company, but also ask serious questions at the other end of the pitch. Tottenham thoroughly deserved to pick up three points as they maintained their unbeaten start at the expense of Manchester City who lost theirs, but a sign of true champions is the ability to bounce back stronger than before. Coral still believe that Guardiola’s side are favourites to win the title in the latest football odds, but with tough upcoming games on the horizon, all eyes will be on them to see if they respond or begin to show cracks which see their superb start to the season unravel.

Losing before the international break will have left Guardiola stewing over the result for a fortnight, but such is the Spaniard’s methodical persona and acute attention to detail, he will have looked at where it went wrong for his team and how they can improve moving towards. The most ominous thing for the rest of the Premier League is that Guardiola believes Manchester City have to improve in many areas if they are to challenge for the league title and Champions League honours; his comments came after victory in the Manchester derby when City had beaten everyone that had stood before them in all competitions. It is difficult to see how they could play any better, with the team looking like scoring every time they go forward with speed, power and precision.

Everton will be the first to ask questions of Manchester City’s resilience and see if Guardiola should be worried about his team’s mentality to bounce back after the Tottenham defeat. Analysing the odds with Coral would suggest that the Citizens should consider themselves strong favourites to return to winning ways and prove the result before the international break was a mere blip, but given that Ronald Koeman’s side are currently fifth in the table, the visitors are unlikely to roll over. The former Southampton manager has made an instant impact upon arriving at Goodison Park, with Koeman not only setting up a strong defensive unit that looks far more secure than it did under predecessor Roberto Martinez, but has also reignited the spark back into the likes of Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku who are integral to how Everton perform.

Fixtures against Southampton (H), West Brom (A) and Middlesbrough (H) follow the clash with Everton, but Guardiola will certainly have one eye on the first leg of Manchester City’s crunch double-header with his former club Barcelona in the Champions League. Picking up four points from their opening fixtures against Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic may be enough to soften the blow if Luis Enrique manages to get the better of Guardiola in both games, although Manchester City fans may fancy their chances against the Catalan giants. The manner in which Barcelona capitulated, particularly in defence, in their 4-3 defeat at Celta Viga in La Liga before the international break should offer great encouragement away from the obvious threat of the ‘MSN’ partnership of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. Getting one over on his former employers both home and away would not only be a big statement to the rest of the Champions League favourites that Manchester City mean business, but it would also go some way towards proving to Guardiola that his team are the real deal.

Photo: Action Images

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